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Shipman's jail letters bragged about killing

Letters written by serial killer Dr Harold Shipman while he was in prison were made public for the first time.

Shipman murdered 215 of his patients using the drug Diamorphine over a period of 20 years.

But he claims no one saw him do anything in the letters.

In one letter he says: "No one saw me do anything. As for stealing morphine off the terminally ill, again no-one saw me do it."

In another he said: "The police complain I'm boring. No mistresses, no home abroad or money in Swiss banks, I'm normal. If that is boring, I am."

Psychologist Dr David Holmes said Shipman's letters show he relished the attention of being Britain's most prolific serial killer.

The expert said Shipman thought he was a "medical god."

He said: "He saw no one as being superior to him. In his own mind, in his own eyes, he was some sort of medical god."

Shipman died in January 2004 after hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison in West Yorkshire.

Senior judge Janet Smith led an investigation into the doctor's killing spree.

She recommended changes to the structure of the UK's General Medical Council (GMC), tighter access to controlled drugs and reform of death certification to make it less open to abuse.



Disappointed

But she told the programme she was "disappointed" that key recommendations from her report were not achieved.

She said: "We haven't moved at all on the basic death certification. It's exactly the same."

Barry Swann, whose aunt and mother were both killed by Shipman, said: "It would be a travesty after all that we have been through if there were still loopholes."

But GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said progress was slow because doctors feel threatened by change.

He said: "Part of the reason is convincing the profession that it is a good idea -- and I think that we have begun to do that. But I think it has been a slow process.

"And I certainly think some older doctors found it a threatening process."

In a statement, the Department of Health said the majority of recommendations from the Shipman Inquiry were now implemented.

A spokesman said: "This, crucially, included much better safeguarding of controlled drugs.

"Reforming the process of death certification requires changes to primary and secondary legislation -- this takes time.

"We've already made changes to primary legislation and decisions on priorities for this area will be made in the coming weeks."

hnews@herald.ie


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